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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2015 June;81(6):662-77

language: English

Brain injury after cardiac surgery

Scolletta S. 1, Taccone F. S. 2, Donadello K. 2

1 Department of Anesthesia, Intensive Care and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Siena, Siena, Italy;
2 Department of Intensive Care, Erasme University Hospital, Université de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium


In patients undergoing cardiac surgery, postoperative brain injury significantly contributes to increase morbidity and mortality and has negative consequences on quality of life and costs. Moreover, over the past years, compelling medical and technological improvements have allowed an even older patients’ population, with several comorbidities, to be treated with cardiac surgery; however, the risk of brain injury after such interventions is also increased in these patients. With the aim of improving post-operative neurological outcome, a variety of neuromonitoring methods and devices have been introduced in clinical practice. These techniques allow the assessment of a number of parameters, such as cerebral blood flow, brain embolic events, cerebral cortical activity, depth of anesthesia and brain oxygenation. Some of them have been used to optimize the hemodynamic management of such patients and to select specific therapeutic interventions. Also, various pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches have been proposed to minimize the incidence of brain injury in this setting.
In this review we describe the risk factors and mechanisms of cerebral injury after cardiac surgery and focus on monitoring techniques and clinical strategies that could help clinicians to minimize the incidence of brain injury.

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